I’m the head of marketing for a regional mortgage company, recently hired to lead marketing strategy for the entire brokerage. Ironically, despite having eight plus months under my belt, I have yet to dig myself out enough to even think about a cohesive marketing plan, let alone take steps to organize the drafting of one.
Although it’s true that we have a small department relative to the number of employees we support, I know that my time is not best spent putting out fires and doing the marketing work. Especially with the pundits predicting an economic adjustment within the next few years, taking all of that on myself will likely catch up with me.
So here’s my question: Given the limited resources I have at my disposal, how do I get ahead of my department’s workload and develop a plan to extricate myself from the day to day execution of the marketing work of my company?
Sincerely, The Amazing Mrs. Mazel the Marketer
Dear Mrs. Mazel,
Your plight is, of course, not uncommon. Most of us learned in elementary school that proper planning prevents poor performance and, applied to business, that means a business plan which sets the tone for strategic and marketing activities is vital for any business that one day wants to grow up into a company. That said, a surprising number of “companies” do not have any formal planning process in place, but instead rely on top line growth to hide flaws in bottom line numbers caused by operational inefficiency.
Two problems are actually at play here. One, you don’t have a strategy to make sure your marketing efforts are aligned with the company’s goals and two, you don’t have a way to measure the effectiveness of your measures or the efficiency of your department. If you’re working on something that an employee can be paid to do at lower rate than you earn, then your department is working inefficiently. Your company compensates you as a Marketing Director for a good reason- your ability to lead the department and leverage the talent of your direct reports is a more highly valued role than someone who specializes in graphic art, social media or digital advertising. Thus, if you’re not leading your department through proper strategic planning and execution, leveraging the resources you have as opposed to doing the work yourself, you are not doing what your company really needs and you are right to be concerned about any future softness in the mortgage market.
But, back to your initial question of how to find the time to do what you know needs to be done.
- Learn to push back and say “no.”
- Let them fail
- Work longer hours and more efficiently
Push Back/Say No
From the description of your issues, it seems clear that you receive a steady stream of requests for your products. Do you have a specific menu of options you provide your employees, or is there a lot of custom work? If you’re reinventing the wheel with each request it’s a huge time suck, as opposed to working off of established templates that can be more easily streamlined and taught to others. If people are demanding complicated solutions that you aren’t sure are the right way to go anyway, don’t be afraid to have a discussion- after all, you’re the marketing pro, not them. And if the idea is a good one and you’re just busy, establish a deadline that’s achievable without hobbling your workflow. When time permits, establish a formal menu of services that is easily replicable and train your people to handle those requests.
Let Them Fail
Don’t be a “helicopter boss.” If you’ve trained your people correctly and they possess good work ethic, then trust them to do their jobs. They may not always do things exactly as you would, and will occasionally make mistakes, but that’s a justified trade off for a more streamlined process. Plus, those mistakes serve as teachable moments and your team will be better for having had the experience of failure. Being freed of the burden of micromanagement allows you to focus on higher level activities.
Work Longer Hours and More Efficiently
These are two separate strategies, but putting in the hours when needed really has no substitute if you want to continue to move up the ladder. Certainly there are plenty of C-Suite executives that got there through who they know, where they’re from, and what school they went to, but most of us have to do things the hard way, which means hard work, smart work or efficient work… choose any two.
There is no magical formula for success, Mrs. Mazel, and no one at your company is likely to mentor you through these challenges. This is all on you, so step up, lean in, roll up your sleeves, and provide results that will wow. You may just end up saving that company when the market correction fully rears its head, paving the way for a C-Suite office yourself.